Laws on dogs in cars

Sometimes it is difficult to part with your dog when they are wagging at the door, begging to leave the house with you. Many people do not realise that taking your dog to the grocery store on a hot summer day can be incredibly dangerous and even illegal.

Many states have laws pertaining to what is legal and illegal when travelling in a car with dogs.


Much like children, dogs can suffer from heat exhaustion and even suffocate when left unattended in a car. Sunny days may not seem as troublesome as they are. Even days that are only 15.6 degrees C can leave cars heated up to 32.2 degrees C. This makes conditions incredibly unsafe for any animal or person. Cracking a window or leaving air conditioning on is not necessarily a solution to the problem. Another problem with dogs and cars is those who let dogs ride in the back on pickup trucks. This is dangerous because a dog can easily fly out of the back.


On warm days, as difficult as it may be, it is best to leave your furry friend at home. If you travel with your dog, give him plenty of water during the trip so he does not become dehydrated. To assure animals remain safe, educate your community. Hand out flyers explaining the dangers of leaving dogs in the car. It is important if you are taking a dog in a pickup truck to keep it inside the truck and not in the cab. If you are hit, the dog is less likely to be injured.

General Laws

Many states have laws pertaining to leaving a dog in the car on a heated day. Generally, it is illegal to put a pet in any dangerous or unhealthy situation. Each state has specific laws geared to animal cruelty; check with your local police department or government office for specific information.

Animal Cruelty

One example of an animal cruelty law is from the state of Maryland. In Maryland, it is illegal to leave a cat or dog in a car on a warm day or back of a pickup truck. In these situations, any police officer, public safety officer, firefighter or animal control officer can forcefully remove any dog from a car or truck if the dog's safety or health is at risk.

Pickup Trucks and Seat Belts

It is illegal to carry a dog in the cab of a truck. The dog must be placed inside the truck if being transported. Although it is not illegal to have a dog in a car or truck without a seat belt, it is suggested for their safety. Pet seat belts can be installed at many pet stores.